Pathways to offending for young Sudanese Australians

Dr Stephane Shepherd1
1Swinburne University Of Technology, Alphington, Australia

Many Sudanese Australians have faced re-settlement challenges since migrating to Australia from the late 1990s onwards. Challenges have included language barriers, obtaining stable

housing, acquiring employment, acculturative stressors and discrimination. Moreover, many have been exposed to pre-migratory traumas and family fragmentation. Despite these difficulties, the vast majority of Sudanese Australians have integrated successfully into the fabric of Australian society. Yet a small number of young Sudanese Australians are at-risk for

violence and other criminal activities, resulting in their over-representation in the criminal justice system. These circumstances have been the subject of sustained sensationalised media

coverage in Australia. However, little academic attention has been afforded to these matters. This study aimed to address this gap in the literature by identifying the self-reported life

experiences and offending patterns of Sudanese-Australian youth in custody. Findings illuminated a number of key risk factors for justice system contact and opportunities for intervention.


Dr. Stephane Shepherd is a 2018 ARC DECRA fellow and Senior Lecturer in Forensic Mental Health at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science. His research explores cross-cultural issues at the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system. He investigates risk and protective factors for violence and offending and the relationship with mental health, and how these concepts may manifest differently cross-culturally. He has ongoing affiliations with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Sydney. In 2015, he became Australia’s inaugural Fulbright Scholar in Cultural Competence.


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